These past two years or so I've never lived in a place for longer than five months. Whether it was studying abroad, switching apartments, discovering new cities, or chasing my dreams across the country, I've learned to be okay living a modern nomadic lifestyle. These past two years have been full of new friends, quick goodbyes, moments that flash by (the good and the bad), but no regrets.
Moving somewhere completely new is the best way to learn about yourself. Learning to rely on yourself to adjust to new places, keep yourself safe and happy, and develop a sense of trust in yourself is so important as you grow into adulthood. Here are a few things I've learned:
1. If you have the opportunity to move, do it. While you're still young there's nothing holding you back. Nobody's depending on you but yourself, so take the risk and do it.
2. Parting with material things. I watch people move in and out of places and get headaches for them. Shipping boxes of horded clothes and material objects they don't use back and forth, relying on parents or friends to carry their things for them, going out of their way to transport furniture...is any of that necessary? I'm the kind of person who can pack and move within a day. If it needs to be shipped, it's not coming with me. Because of how much I've moved in the past few years, I learned to filter out my things and only keep what I really need. It just makes life so much easier.
3. People think traveling is the way to see the world. I mean, sure it is, in a way. But truly "traveling the world" is not going to a new city for three days to do and eat all the touristy attractions. You have to live like a local and do things like locals do to truly understand the difference in the ways people live in different places.
4. Adapting to new environments. I believe I'm good at this because I don't yet hold a firm belief in my preferred "perfect way to live." I don't need to have loved ones around me at all times. (Technology definitely helps.) I don't necessarily need a car, because I like to try out all types of public transportation. I don't need my room or apartment or house to have certain amenities because I've experienced living in the shittiest of environments and survived, so I'm basically okay with anything. I feel like adapting quickly is a good skill to have in teaching yourself resilience and be happy living a low-maintenance easygoing life.
5. Embracing the unknown. People fear the unknown world. We fear what we haven't experienced and we're afraid of what's out there. But in my experience living in some of the biggest cities in the world, I've learned that it's not all that big and scary. People are people, whether they speak another language or come from a different background, we all live for love, compassion, hope, and community. And once we learn to open ourselves up to others and show them this love and compassion, we open ourselves up to a world of friendship and understanding that can make any place feel like home. It makes the scariness of your own future less scary. You just have to take it one day at a time and truly enjoy what you're getting out of it. You might be surprised.
Many days I cry over the instability in my life. I don't have a place to call home. Does that make me a bum? A pathetic immature slacker who can't keep a job and be an adult?
But what is home? Is it found in a feeling, a person(s), or a place? Is having a home that important to your identity?
Can you be a nomad and still feel like yourself?
I think so.